Landlocked Opera to World Premiere Felix Jarrar’s ‘Pompadour Porcelain’

By David Salazar
(Credit: Eliana Brea)

Missouri’s Landlocked Opera will present the world premiere of Felix Jarrar’s “Pompadour Porcelain” on July 24 and 26, 2024.

Jarrar’s second drag opera takes place in a fantasy fiction world of the 1750s Versailles during the time of Louis the Beloved. When Madame de Pompadour throws a major party, she receives a threat from her fortune teller Madame de Lebon. Meanwhile, the king’s daughter, Princess Adélaïde of France, seeks to embarrass Pompadour at her latest party while Pompadour’s porcelain statues come to life under Lebon’s spell. It all leads to a showdown in the gardens between Adélaïde and Pompadour.

“Madame de Pompadour was so much more than a mistress to King Louis XV. She was hugely influential on art and culture at the time, and when doing research into the character, I came across articles and lectures about her stunning collection of porcelain. The detail and beauty of these sculptures influenced me to want to personify them in music,” Jarrar told OperaWire. “Madame de Lebon, Pompadour’s fortune teller, was in fact a real person. When she was a child, she predicted that Pompadour would be a favorite of the king. In this piece of comic historical fantasy fiction, I’ve continued their relationship in Pompadour’s adulthood at Versailles. I’ve created the role of Pompadour as a drag role for bass-baritone, following in the tradition of my fifth opera ‘Mother Goose’ where the singer of the same voice type was in drag.

“However, what is unique about this piece are the roles for dancers. The dancers represent four porcelain pieces that come to life through the magic of Madame de Lebon’s crystal ball. This creates an element of dance that interplays with the sung operatic drama of the piece. Musically, I have drawn on influences of Rococo music and late Baroque counterpoint/imitation between the motifs of the work to create a style that combines the tried and true traditions of this time period with my contemporary perspective. ‘Pompadour Porcelain’ is all about being festive and joyful and not only includes bass-baritone as a drag queen amongst the cast of singers, but a troupe of dancers as well who represent personifications of the porcelain pieces that come to life. A trio of flute, violin and piano rounds off the forces for this piece.”

The opera stars Kate Bishop as Madame de Lebon, Maya Anand as Princess Adélaïde, and Jonathan Crader as Madame de Pompadour.